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British Airways clamping down on dropped final legs of ex-EU tickets

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Historically, British Airways has been very casual about people who dropped the final segment on an ex-EU long haul flight.

What I mean, in plain English, is that if you booked a Club World ticket from Dublin to London to Somewhere to London to Dublin, BA would not cause you any trouble if you did not fly the final London to Dublin leg.

Why would you book a ticket out of Dublin in the first place?  Because, given the right sale conditions, it could be 75% cheaper than starting in London.

Two people, independently, told me last week that British Airways will begin to take a harder line.  Both of these people are very close to the situation.

The trigger has been the ludicrously cheap tickets to Hong Kong which British Airways is selling from Germany.  These are £1,000 return in Club World – the offer has been extended to this Friday as my other article today explains.  It appears that BA intends to continue to sell tickets at these prices to counteract heavy discounting by the Middle East carriers and Turkish, but needs to ensure it protects its revenue.

If the final leg of your Germany to Hong Kong ticket is a few months after the Hong Kong to London leg, be aware.  Your card is marked.  British Airways will be watching to make sure you take the final flight to Germany.

Anyone who booked the final leg for the same day or day after their return from Hong Kong has less to worry about.  Those tickets look real and there are many genuine reasons why an unexpected situation could detain you in London and meant you missed the last flight ….

If you do not take the final leg of a booked flight, BA has the right to reassess your fare and charge you for the cost of a Germany – Hong Kong – London ticket.  This would be a bill for a large amount of money.

This could all be ‘talk’ by British Airways, of course.  If you refused to pay their invoice, they would need to pursue you in court for the money and I doubt that they would want to risk a judgement going against them.

However, the two people who told me about this do not know each other and work at totally different ends of the travel spectrum.  Both have seen or heard this message directly from BA in the last week.

If you have a one-way ticket from London to Frankfurt showing in for next year, months after you return from Hong Kong, you may want to take a day off work and make a day trip.  You’d get the tier points and Avios from the Club Europe leg anyway so it is worth doing it!

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Comments (89)

  • Waribai says:

    I couldn’t see much mileage (excuse the Minday morning pun!) in BA pursuing the legal route. I could see that they might get vengeful though and close your BAEC account.

    • RIccati says:

      It’s like giving a toy (fare) to a kid and then withdraw their dessert because they played with the toy not in the way you imagined.

      People will ALWAYS use a product/technology in unexpected and unintended ways.

      • jonboy73 says:

        Yes but.. in this case… us kids created websites and discussed at length, right under their noses, ways to play with the toy to create the maximum annoyance and eat the least amount of dinner before getting dessert. Lol

        It was only a matter of time Imho.

        • RIccati says:

          As you might’ve noticed, kids do not play any other way than to create the maximum annoyance. The nature of creativity. The louder and squeakier the better. It’s exciting!

  • RIccati says:

    If BA would like to pursue a customer for not fulfilling their obligations under a contract while they were able to (if we treat the ticket as such a contract, it might be the right but not an obligation), the burden of proof would be on BA.

    If someone self-certifies themselves as unfit to travel, it’s BA who should seek the proof to the contrary (not you who should supply a doctor’s note).

    Any lawyers to correct this?

    • Jimmy says:

      I would love someone to test this in a court. If ever I have the opportunity to, I will!

      My own (semi-educated) guess is that while a US court might find for the airline on the basis that you ‘signed’ the contract so you should fulfil it, a European court would likely rule that the relevant conditions are either unfair or unenforceable.

      Realistically I don’t think it will ever get to court. Indeed, they’d be brave even to bill people for ‘missing’ revenue. BA would blink first rather than risking having it categorically established that they’re onto a loser.

      Far more effective is to scare people from time to time and put about the rumour that they could – if they wanted to – but, y’know, they don’t really … but they could … so, watch it.

  • Stu R says:

    British Airways really has gone to the wall. Once proclaiming themselves as ‘the World’s favourite airline’, I doubt they’re even in the top 25 now?

    Instead of bleating about the ME3 and Turkish, it’s time they completely overhauled their product (including a complete redesign of Club World as I really don’t want folks climbing over me in flight, and those ‘cubicles’ are quite claustrophobic) and made sure they have ample food choices and champers to last an entire flight.

    For example, choosing between BA & QR isn’t a choice; the QR 330/777 old style business is way better than BA, and the 787/350/380 knocks spots off BA – and QR’s food and service is also streets ahead!

    It’s come to the point now where if you get on a BA Club World flight, think ‘this will be bad’ from the outset, then anything else is a bonus ….

    • Polly says:

      Agree completely, which is why we actually cancelled out BA 241 in F and are now flying QR J from CPH. The 1-2-1 config is fantastic. No climbing over anyone else’s legs etc. And re used our 241 next March. As you say, it’s no contest. Hate to say it but their J cabins are even more spacious than BA F on some planes. BA really ought to decrease the number of seats in J, at least to a 2-2-2 format. As the ba staff on biz traveller note, J is rarely full, and that says it all, really.

      • Stu R says:

        We did exactly the same, we ‘were’ booked on BA in F to Japan for the fall colours but decided we’d rather have 2 weeks in sun so we’re flying with QR to BKK in J instead – never more happy given we live in Scotland and the weather this summer’s been dire – at least we have some sun to look forward to!

        I have flown on BA in J and the service was appalling. I also have colleagues who’ve recently travelled and instances of no champagne or running out 2 hours into the flights have both been encountered.

        So, as far as BA are concerned, they can offer all they like from Europe but I’d rather save my cash for the QR deals so they won’t be pursuing me for an unblown leg any time soon 😉

    • Ronster says:

      Its important to understand why BA has not chosen to update its Ying-Yang Club design just yet. One of the major reasons, I believe would be simply down to business sense. With the new First class being introduced, if BA had also introduced a product that was similar , then there would be little incentive for people to actually either buy/redeem for a first class ticket or even upgrade to first from Club.

      There have been patented designs of a possible new Business class seating(with direct isle access), that BA might introduce one day but whether they do is anyones guess.

      I’m happy to stick to my ONLY F class redemption policy when it comes to BA. I’m certainly looking forward to our far eastern trip in BA F. Though I am aware of QR’s excellent J product, it most certainly is not a F product. Also I much prefer the direct service where I will be able to hopefully get a good uninterrupted sleep, without having to change in the middle east.

      With 42 787-9 and 787-10’s on order it will be a difficult choice of where to choose to burn my 2-4-1 vouchers.

      One thing that I would like to see introduced, would be a 2-4-1 oneworld voucher scheme with Amex.

      Not that would indeed be interesting?!

      • Polly says:

        Agree with you, of course the direct F service is great, and we slept most of the way to HKG. But this QR J ticket allowed us to divide our trip into 2 hols which is such a treat for us. As I managed to get really really good deals on hotels in Asia when changing our flights. We, like you only ever managed the one 241 F trip a year, but QR J does feel really spacious, and that’s what I meant by comparing it to BA F.

        Love your idea of an amex OW 241. Now that’s an original thought. Don’t think BA would want to refund any other OW carrier the cost of an F 241 say on CX to Australia! Great out of the box thinking. Maybe when BA send us a survey we should be suggesting this to them…bad enough that we can’t even change our FF number on the BA site.

      • RIccati says:

        But we do not care for BA First. They lost that luxury segment.

        98% of the travellers would step into CW and say if this is how Business is like, then what’s First is going to be.

        I think BA benchmarked against the older “First” of the US airlines (American, etc) which is hardly a luxurious experience by today’s standards.

      • Josh says:

        BA really need to update Club World, because basically it sucks. Having Club World the way it is is not encouraging people to pay more for a first class BA ticket, it is just encouraging them to pay for a business class ticket on a different airline.

        The only reason to fly BA Club World is:
        – they are the only airline available to you flying that route
        – they are cheap
        – you need the 96kg baggage allowance

        I think Club World was once a leading product, but it has now been overtaken and left far, far behind.

  • sandgrounder says:

    Section 3c.

    Unless I have missed something, the only sanctions are refusal to carry. People change their plans, and on a non refundable ticket you lose your money. They certainly could take your Avios though I would imagine.

    • sandgrounder says:

      You can be sancioned with suspension or termination for:



      failure to comply with these Terms and Conditions or the terms and conditions of a Service or Airline Partner; or
      attempting to obtain Tier Points or Avios points by Fraud; or
      misusing the Services; or
      misconduct on board a British Airways or Airline Partner’s flight or in a Lounge or while checking-in; or
      misconduct in dealing with British Airways’ staff or the staff of any Service Partner; or
      failure to comply with the applicable General Conditions of Carriage for Passengers and Baggage and any other applicable rules and regulations.”

      You may well lose your BAEC account, but is anyone aware of precident?

      Re the extra charge, I know ferry companies have done this for day trips with a missed return, but in that case the contract explicitly says that you agree to pay the difference if you don’t return on time.

    • RIccati says:

      There is also a useful section,

      3c4) If you need to change any aspect of your transportation because of events beyond your control, you must contact us as soon as possible. We will use reasonable efforts to transport you to your next stopover or final destination, without re-calculating the fare.

    • Calchas says:

      Aye. There is no basis in the contract for what Raffles has suggested in his post. Even if there were, it would be easy to argue it was a penalty clause and therefore not enforceable in English law.

  • Keith says:

    I don’t understand what they can do. They overbook flights because they know there will be ‘no shows’.

    It may unfortunately signal the end of some of the monster deals that have been available but they’ve created the disparity in fares in the first place. Why is Dublin 75% cheaper? I mean you have ti fly to London to get the plane you would have booked anyway.

    Has anyone that has done this on H4P ever been contacted by BA?

  • Idrive says:

    I have an ex eu next March. I don’t want to risk it so i will make my all my way back. It’s a bit tiring but in the end it’s worth it. Also with a luggage i don’t see it very feasable to hope that AA check in agents will allow me to send it half the way.. Some reports on FT advised it’s a matter of luck…

    • CHRIS says:

      @IDrive ask them to short check your luggage to heathrow rather than all the way through as you want to change before your next flight.

    • Polly says:

      How come you didn’t book your last leg from a different airport in London??? Shame really, but I think we would also complete the last leg, ESP, if it’s a tier run one to obtain or retain silver.

      • idrive says:

        Polly, I could not because all flights were from LHR no other airport options. i booked it online btw.
        And I already saved more than 500+GBP. It is not a mileage run, it’s a proper trip to the US with exactly the flights I wanted (timing). and by the way, seen the recent news about the last leg of the flights, i do not want to risk. I can not afford being flagged/account closed. I can try to quote the same and see if the difference if offsetting the value of the flight back to the UK or similar

        • Polly says:

          Agreed, it is better to complete all legs if it’s not too much trouble. We will return to Ublin, then quick avios trip back to LHR. Worth it for the tier points at the time. The savings are great so we all appear to value this knowledge, much appreciated….

  • Jon says:

    I am almost certain there has been an EU court ruling or decree that the requirement to take all legs of a journey is an unfair term and likely unenforceable. You are buying a right to take a flight, not a requirement to do so.

    • Callum says:

      Because BA competes with numerous carriers on the Dublin to X to Y route, but very few on the London to Y route. They can therefore charge a premium for direct while slashing prices with connections to complete with other one stop carriers.

      • Callum says:

        That went under the wrong comment.

        Though back on topic, are you sure you aren’t thinking of the proposed changes to EU261? They contain a similar provision.

        • Jon says:

          It’s entirely possible I was thinking of proposed rather than actual changes.

      • James67 says:

        True, but only until they reach a tipping point with regards to the fare, products and services on offer whereupon customers are no longer prepared to pay for the convenience of direct flights. It is clear from this blog that this tipping point has already been passed for many people. Further, more compelling, evidence is Emirates all a380 services from LHR and its introduction to LGW. It is not difficult to forsee an ME3 all 380 service at LHR within a couple of years. That they can do so is not because they are luring traffic away from LH or AF, it is clearly BA who are losing out. Some of ME3 success can reasonably be argued to be due to passenger growth but even so BA are still loosing out by failing to secure that growth for themselves. If further evidence is needed it is the increasing prevalence of smaller BA aircraft on major routes. This is not just driven by efficiency of individual aircraft but by a lack of passengers to fill a larger aircraft.

    • Rob says:

      IIRC it has been proved in court that you CANNOT buy a rail ticket from London to Three Bridges and get off at Gatwick (this is cheaper than booking London to Gatwick). This is no different.

      • Richard says:

        Think you can get off – there just maybe consequences.

      • sandgrounder says:

        IF the terms and conditions made it clear that this was the case, then it would be similar. However, the railways enjoy a comprehensive set of bylaws which set out very clearly that this type of behaviour is a criminal offence. This is not the case for airlines.

        Plus, the example given is different because the customers in question have booked the last leg to be taken at a later date. Such products do not exist on the railway, as far as I know?

      • Curon says:

        Different kettle of fish. The National Conditions of Carriage are clear on this:

        16. Starting, breaking or ending a journey at intermediate stations
        You may start, or break and resume, a journey (in either direction in the case of a return
        ticket) at any intermediate station, as long as the ticket you hold is valid for the trains you
        want to use.

        • sandgrounder says:

          So with a cheap train ticket you can miss any of the early sections of the trip, but not terminate early. Sort of the opposite! I knew you couldnt get off at an earlier stop on an advance ticket, but I was not aware you could join your train late. Good to know.

          • JQ says:

            No, you can’t. You’ve missed the last bit of the clause posted above: advance tickets are not valid unless you take the entire journey specified on the train you have booked, so you wouldn’t have a valid ticket for the trains you intend to use.

            Whether you get caught is a different matter.

          • sandgrounder says:

            Oooh selective posting. Could have got me in trouble there mate. Grrrr! 🙂

      • Calchas says:

        The rail network is governed by its own bye-laws. Your relationship with BA is a purely contractual one. There’s no contract term allowing BA to apply an arbitrary reprice on your journey if you no longer wish to make use of the ticket.

  • Mark says:

    I flew back yesterday from LA on a LAX-LHR-DUB flight. The guy at LAX was very hesitant to only check my bags through to London an even went to check with his supervisor (I started to sweat a bit). I explained that I wanted to freshen up in London but my wash bag contained items over 100ml so I could not carry them on. All was fine, bags came out at Heathrow and I came home.
    Oddly enough I was travelling with 5 friends all on different bookings but doing the same thing, not one of them even got questioned about why they wanted too collect their bags in London.

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